EC clips wings of ministers, MPs, secys

Kathmandu, March 16

The Election Commission has banned ministers, lawmakers, government secretaries and staffers from embarking on foreign junkets, as such tours violate the poll code of conduct.

The election body, however, said ministers, lawmakers and bureaucrats could attend conferences to discuss treaties that Nepal was party to.

The EC said it had turned down dozens of applications for foreign visits by ministers, lawmakers, secretaries and other government employees after the commission enforced election code of conduct.

“We have asked them to defer their foreign visits until the local level polls are over,” EC Spokesperson Surya Prasad Sharma told The Himalayan Times. According to Sharma, applications for foreign visits and complaints against election code violation number more than 300.

He said ministers and the prime minister had to take the approval of the EC to participate in a conference abroad.

Meanwhile, the EC has decided to print voters’ identity cards on its premises, as the printing of the voters’ identity cards is a sensitive issue and requires high security.

The commission has to print about 14 million voters’ identity cards and distribute them among voters prior to local level elections slated for May 14.

“The contractor has to instal printing machine on the EC premises to print voters’ identity cards,” Election Commissioner Narendra Dahal told THT. He said the commission would start printing voters’ identity cards as soon as possible.

According to Dahal, quality of new voters’ identity cards will be better than the identity cards EC had provided for the second Constituent Assembly election. He said paper quality would be better, more security features would be included and identity cards would be laminated. The same cards can be used in provincial and parliamentary elections, he added.

Earlier, the commission had sought Nepali Army security for printing ballot paper. Officials told THT that ballot papers should be printed under high security and the commission had entrusted the army with the job. The EC has decided to print ballot papers in the press of Janak Shiksha Samagri Kendra Ltd.

“We’ll start printing voters’ identity cards and ballot papers soon,” said Sharma. He said the commission had to print several types of ballot papers and the size of ballot papers would be different for each district.

Political parties represented in the Parliament will get their party’s election symbol. New parties and independent candidates will have to contest polls on the symbol provided by the EC.